Our guide to accessorising your VW California using the configurator tool

As the natural successor to the classic VW Combi the California has a strong heritage to uphold. It certainly does this.

The latest model, based on the new the T6 van, further bridges the gap between van and car offering a surprisingly comfortable drive along with a whole host of interesting options.

It’s a tough business deciding which of these extras to choose. As if deciding on everything from colour to trim wasn’t bad enough, once you throw in everything, including the kitchen sink (literally), the equation quickly turns into a nightmare of need versus greed.

Well, worry not! We'll guide you through the VW California customisation process, explaining what the differences mean in real terms.


Quick Order Tips

The following extras are strongly recommended to retain the maximum value of your California:

  • Privacy glass – keeps you cool in the summer
  • Parking sensors – it's a big van to reverse park
  • Black Awning – Shade or rain cover and somewhere to sit out

To add all three, you’re looking at an additional cost of approximately £900 from the base model.


Beach or Ocean?

The two key models are the Beach (starting at £38,214), and Ocean (starting at £48,547) - which is the premium model.

The primary difference is that the Ocean has an electric-operated pop-up aluminium roof where the Beach’s roof must be manually adjusted. The Ocean is also the version with a kitchenette built in. The Beach offers extra removable seats and more space instead of the kitchenette. Both versions sleep four people, and offer the same options for awnings.


There are some less integral additional features the Ocean comes with as standard: a cooling/warming box, more advanced dashboard (including three-zone air conditioning) – right the way through to the small luxuries like heated seats. Confusingly though, many of these extras can be added to the Beach later in the customisation process anyway.


The base engine for the California range is a 100bhp 2-litre turbodiesel. This is then tweaked and tuned into 148bhp and 201bhp versions (the 201bhp is only available in the Ocean). While the smallest is the most economical (giving you 44.8mpg), you will find the 148bhp tackles hills with just a little bit more ease, especially when fully loaded.

There are also four-wheel drive and automatic options to choose from on certain engines. Four-wheel drive is always going to be useful in a vehicle likely to be used on grass and other unpredictable terrain.

Interestingly, the lower-priced Beach model offers more paint choices than the Ocean. The so-called ‘Grape Yellow’ is exclusive to the Beach, and is obviously considered desirable as it comes with a £218 price tag. With this colour, you are also required to add the ‘exterior package’ at the cost of £384 (which includes exterior mirrors black grain, add-on parts (body-coloured) and front fog lights).

Similarly, metallic options available on both models come in at £618 – about standard for metallic paint jobs. Research by value experts, CAP, showed that Grape Yellow is holding its value when looking at resale of a vehicle. Metallic finishes also hold their value better than flat. So, if you prefer the shinier metallic finish anyway, it’s probably worth the investment.

There are other tailoring options both internally and externally (trims, upholstery etc), but these are mainly down to personal taste, and are unlikely to influence the resale value.

Seats Layout

The Ocean comes with swiveling front seats as standard, but they are an optional extra on the Beach. Given the limited interior space you’re dealing with, the addition of swiveling front seats is transformative.

Both models come with a table, so if the front and back seats can face each other, the table folds down between them which is an excellent feature for camping.


The Ocean offers the chance to upgrade your front seats, but all the premium, comfort and lumbar support options (which were designed for the original van the California is based on), don’t have the California’s bespoke swivel feature which, if you ask us, is probably more important when space is so limited. It may also affect the resale value.


There are several wheel options available. Put simply, these are mostly for aesthetic reasons, so go with what you like. The Beach wheel sizes range from 16” – 18” where the Ocean only offers 17” – 18”, but has significantly more choice in the 18” range.


Sometimes the best way to approach add-ons is to try packages (manufacturer created deals combining multiple features) instead of adding individual things yourself. It can save money, and certainly avoids a lot of the conflicts you can get on the VW configurator (see our Top Tip below).

Also, with certain elements (like the dashboard tech) where there are several variations, it’s interesting to see which ones VW themselves champion as part of the package deals.

Top Tip

If using the VW on-site configurator, be aware that certain changes will affect others, and it’s entirely possible to chase your tail undoing, and redoing certain combinations. The common message is ‘This means you must also add/remove this’ – when this occurs, you are adding or taking something from the model, and this could be undoing a choice you’ve just made elsewhere.

Our advice is to pay close attention as it is not always clear exactly what’s being modified.

You can double check everything at the end, and add/remove things.

All in all . . .

The VW California range offers a huge level of customisation, and the vans themselves are extremely well thought out.

If you’re tech-savvy and like nothing more than to surround yourself with the latest gadgets, there are options for adding everything from Cruise Control to Wi-Fi.

If you couldn’t care less about tech, but want extra comfort or practicality, there are bed extensions, comfort sleeping mat extras and even ‘storage nets’ for that extra bit of space saving.

Whatever you do though, bear in mind that the more niche you go with your extras, the less likely things are to retain their value for resale.


Don't forget you can configure your own VW California through the AutoeBid configurator.




Images courtesy of the Volkswagen Group

All image rights remain with the Volkswagen Group

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